The school term may have only just begun. But parents are already thinking about which school to send their children to, for next September.
September 17 is deadline day for those applying for discretionary Primary One places in government and aided schools. Although Direct Subsidy Scheme schools are not part of the government's allocation system, many have set application deadline dates during this month. For popular schools that receive more applications than places, it is essential to meet their deadlines.
Choices for English Schools Foundation schools have to be made quickly. ESF primary schools accept applications from September 17. As they admit students on a first-come-first-served basis, subject to meeting language requirements, forms must be submitted as soon as possible from that date. ESF secondary schools accept applications from this month.
Those hoping to send their children to the most popular international school may have to plan years ahead. Hong Kong International School accepts applications two years before a child's first day at school, for instance. French International School considers children on a first-come-first-served basis and has some parents putting their children's names down from birth. Early registration is also needed for the most popular pre-schools.
Apart from the ESF, over-subscribed schools are selective. Primary schools will normally interview children and observe their aptitudes and readiness to learn in group settings. English-medium schools will expect children to be ready to learn in that language.
Less popular schools accept applications at any time of year, and will be less stringent in their admission criteria.
KEY TO THE TABLES
Our listings include all the international pre-schools we know of, all international and private independent schools and selected Direct Subsidy Scheme and local private schools.
Schools and pre-schools with multiple campuses are listed in the first region that they appear.
ACAMIS, Association of China and Mongolia International Schools
CIS, Council of International Schools - the global off-shoot of European Council of International Schools (ECIS). Provides accreditation, among other services.
ESL, English as a Second Language, also known as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and English as an Additional Language (EAL)
IBO, International Baccalaureate Organisation, which offers the IB diploma, middle years programme (MYP) and primary years programme (PYP).
ICT, Information and Communications Technology - the common term used internationally for IT education.
IGCSE, International General Certificate of Secondary Education, offered by British examination boards for schools overseas. GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) is primarily for students in Britain. Schools in Hong Kong offer both.
SAT, Scholastic Aptitude Test, standardised US college entrance test.
WASC, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, a major US accrediting body.
Web links for more information
www.emb.gov.hk  - about education in Hong Kong, the website of the Education and Manpower Bureau
www.scmp.com  - the online version of this guide, including live links to all the schools listed.
www.classmateasia.com  - a guide to international pre-schools and international schools in Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau.
www.shambles.net  - a guide to international schools in the region, including Hong Kong and the mainland, plus a teaching and learning resource.